Children are vulnerable creatures. This is due to their tenderness in years, small stature, wound-inducing rough play and susceptibility to all sorts of affections and woes and also due to the fact they haven’t yet built up major immune defences. It’s just not all that great being a kid, and most of us can remember time off school due to various ailments, not to mention injuries.
But, as bad as those things were, they weren’t anywhere near as ominous as the widely-held beliefs and myths that punctuated juvenile fears and produced agonizing nighttime panics. Nights were the worst, of course, because that was when monsters were under the bed (meaning you must never leave your hand dangling outside the covers), and bogeymen were in the closets.
The point was, we invariably believed the myths to be utterly true, and we agonized if we had transgressed, believing that our futures were now to be limited in duration because we had screwed up.
When I was a child, we believed the following. You, I am certain had your own myths that might have been similar to mine, or owned entirely by you and your friends.
– If you accidentally swallow grape seeds, or apple pits, you will get appendicitis. How those seeds might get into the appendix was never questioned. Somehow it happened, and you knew somebody’s cousin who had died of a ruptured appendix. Grape pits were the culprits, no doubt.
– If you swallow chewing gum your intestines will get all clogged up and you will die. Everybody knew of at least one kid that this happened to.
– If you stifle a sneeze your lungs will explode and you will die.
– If you burp, fart and sneeze all at the same time, you will die instantly. Again, somebody heard of a distant relative to whom this had happened.
– If you don’t wait an hour after eating (anything) and then go swimming, you will immediately be afflicted with agonizing cramps and you will drown. This was guaranteed, and happened to thousands of unfortunate kids every summer.
– If you are a boy and you get mumps it will always transfer to your testicles, which will grow to elephantiafsis size, and you will either die in agony, or you will never be able to get married because your testicles will be perpetually humongous.
– If you are a post-pubescent girl and go swimming in the sea when you are on your period you will be attacked by sharks.
Well enough. Children are young and stupid. Sorry, not allowed to say ‘stupid’ these days as ascribed to kids (though some kids are, be honest, stupid). Children are young and ‘uninformed’.
That’s fine. They have an excuse. What excuses do adults who believe tish-tosh, myths, fancifications and other bits of utter bullshit have? OK, let’s bring the word ‘stupid’ back and ascribe it to more worthy, older subjects.
But, enough about politics.